There is a public plea for North Texans to avoid shopping at grocery stores the first three days of April to help ensure low-income mothers can find basic food items.
The ongoing hoarding of basic food items and infant formula has left needy mothers and children without anything.
Texas Health and Human Services estimates there are 181,000 women in North Texas who receive benefits from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
The monthly benefits help mothers with children up to five years of age.
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Their benefits are made available on the first of each month and can be used to purchase WIC-approved food items high in nutrition.
Items including bread, fruit, vegetables, cereal, and milk are labeled with a pink sticker that reads ‘WIC Approved.’
WIC benefits average about $41 per month, according to the National WIC Association.
The association is pleading with the public to be mindful in the coming days to ensure store shelves are not cleared of these essential items, leaving mothers and their children without healthy food.
“We are urging shoppers to be considerate of their neighbors and to reduce panic-buying, to only get the items that they need and to recognize that grocery stores are going to remain open as essential services,” said Brian Dittmeier, senior public policy council at the National WIC Association. “We are seeing a number of shortages on the shelf regarding not just staple foods but infant formula so to ensure WIC participants can continue to access the nutritious foods that they are allotted under the federal benefits we want to make sure that we’re not seeing any shortages on the shelf, that folks are not hoarding items.”
The state of Texas estimates there are 800,000 women and children in the WIC program.
“They are our neighbors, our friends and it is important that they continue to have access to nutritious foods,” said Dittmeier.
The association reports an increased number of women are seeking help, especially because public school students in the state will be out of school until at least May 4.
Dallas city council member Jaime Resendez took to social media to echo the request to refrain from grocery shopping if possible.
“I think it’s extremely important for people to understand that there are others in our community that are more vulnerable, and we should take their circumstances into account,” said Resendez.
Officials with HHS say they’ve been hearing from clients not finding available stock in some areas.
‘To help expand food access, Texas WIC has temporarily made changes to how WIC participants can buy certain WIC foods,’ according to a department spokesman.
WIC participants will now have more options for certain food items at grocery stores.